Few things in life are certain, but I can practically guarantee this: If you live in Cody/Yellowstone Country you will have company at some point, most likely in the summer. And if your friends and relatives are anything like mine, they are curious about what makes the town and surrounding area tick.
I have developed a surefire way to answer most of the questions these folks have and to make their visit so much better by helping them understand what they are seeing.
Here’s my three-step process.
1. I take my guests over to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and we make a hard left straight to the Draper Natural History Museum. We walk over to the edge of the top level and look down at a big tile floor map of the region. By starting big, we get our bearings and see where Cody, Park County, the Park and the whole Yellowstone ecosystem fit together.
We then head down the ramps and begin to learn about some more specific topics like the area’s wildlife, how forest fires are actually good for the environment and the reintroduction of wolves to the area.
Then we spend some more time exploring the other four museums under the Buffalo Bill Center of the West roof. My visitors always want to learn about Buffalo Bill Cody, and the Buffalo Bill Museum does a terrific job of presenting his life and adventures. There’s also the Plains Indians Museum, Whitney Museum of Western Art and Cody Firearms Museum. My visitors are always amazed that we have such a world-class museum in our little town.
2. Next, we head over to the Cody Trolley Tour for a one-hour, 22-mile tour that is a great way to get acquainted with the town. Lively narrators tell the compelling story of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and showcase the town he created.
We learn about the town as it was more than 100 years ago, how the dam changed agriculture in the region, what it took to drill tunnels and create the road to Yellowstone and more.
My favorite part of the tour is when they point out the houses people ordered through the Sears catalog.
3. At this point I am pretty confident that my visitors have a broad understanding of our slice of Heaven and why this whole region is so special. Our next step is to pick out specific things to do and see. Some people want to head straight to the park looking for grizzly bears; others are more interested in human history and can’t wait to get to the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center and others want to hike into a lodge pole pine forest that burned 25 years ago and is growing back with a vengeance.
Me? I think I will head back over to the Draper Museum.
Until next time, I lovin’ life and playing tour guide in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country…